EDDIE LEGGATT & KIRSTY CAPES
In two weeks’ time, the Union’s first Student Assembly of the year will have a chance to discuss and vote on a proposed BDS motion. The motion, presented by Ali Milani (UBS Societies Guild Chair), calls for non-violent pressure on Israel following a brutal summer of military action.
Beginning in 2005, the BDS movement has - through boycotts, divestments and sanctions - pressured Israel to comply with its international obligations. The state of Israel has repeatedly violated international and human rights law, through occupation of UN recognised Palestinian territories and military endeavours against primarily civilian populations.
Brunel students are not the first to consider the BDS movement. Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel have been rampant within Student Unions over the last two years. The most notable case in recent years was at King’s College London, where the trustee board overturned a democratically approved BDS motion. Here, as reported by Roar News, the motion at the SGM passed with 348 votes for, 252 against and 45 abstentions. Nevertheless the Trustee board of KCLSU overturned the decision of the student body, and continue to stand by their decision not to implement a Boycott.
However, over the summer, the situation between Israel and Palestine has dramatically intensified.
Israel’s "Operation Protective Edge" saw devastation hit the people of Palestine. With the BBC's figures on the 27th of August counting over 2,100 Palestinians dead, 83% of whom were civilians, the national discourse is beginning to shift. The streets of London were filled with over 100,000 people calling for an end to the conflict. Consequently the House of Commons followed suit by overwhelmingly voting to recognise a Palestinian state.
The events of the summer has left many calling for action. Just like the student population in the 1980’s in response to South Africa’s Apartheid policies, students across the country are turning towards BDS. On a national level, NUS passed a similar motion on the 4th of August, stating that:
"The motion passed today by our national executive council commits us to ensuring that, as far as is practical, NUS does not employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel's military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity, and to actively work to cut ties with those that do."
The Union of Brunel Students’ five core values are democracy, integrity, equality, excellence and empowerment. The Brunel Student Charter (an agreement between students, the Union and the University) states that “The Students’ Union is expected to [...] Be a powerful lobbying organisation, campaigning on the issues that matter and relate to its members within Brunel University, locally and nationally”.
In what is undeniably going to be an informative, tense and passionate debate within Student Assembly, Brunel students have an opportunity to lead the country’s universities in supporting and advancing equality, justice and freedom for all. The BDS motion, amongst others, will be debated at Student Assembly on Thursday October 30th at 6pm in the Council Chambers. Student Assembly is open to all Brunel students.